December 14, 2021
Misogynistic abuse is rife online but Women don’t bother to report it because nothing gets done. Why? Tech companies just don’t care
Tech bros have been feeding the trolls – and women are paying the price
Have you ever noticed how gigantic my jaw is? Freakishly angular: as if I had swallowed a rhombus. I think it’s quite dashing, but it seems to bother strangers on Twitter, who regularly send me jabs about my jaw. These, by the way, are the polite strangers. Most of the online messages I get are rather more explicit, albeit unimaginatively so. “You should have been aborted”; “die quicker, please”; rape threats; the usual insult that rhymes with Jeremy Hunt. Mostly it’s a manageable drip-drip-drip of nastiness. Some days, however, the volume of online abuse will be quite overwhelming, unbearable even, and I’ll have to temporarily deactivate my Twitter account.
I’m not trying to throw myself a pity party. What is most depressing about my experience is just how common it is. More than a third of women, and almost half of younger women worldwide, have experienced abuse online, according to a 2021 study from the Economist Intelligence Unit. Social networks are constantly pledging to do something about the misogynistic hellholes they have created but clearly too busy selling our data to bother spending any time on user safety. In news that will shock nobody, a new analysis by Amnesty International has found that, despite repeated calls to improve the platform, Twitter is falling short on its promises to protect women and marginalised groups from online abuse. What is more, it seems that women have given up hoping Twitter will ever do anything. Amnesty found that 40% of women who use the platform more than once a day experience abuse and many don’t bother reporting it to the network. According to the survey, 100% of the women who use the platform numerous times a week and who didn’t report abuse said doing so was “not worth the effort.” Since nothing ever gets done, why waste your time?
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